YMMV / Psycho


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     Hitchcock's film 
  • Adaptation Displacement: Who remembers the novel the film was based on?
  • Award Snub: Alfred Hitchcock is the most egregious example (although for Psycho, he was nominated for Best Director, but did not win), but many are utterly shocked that Anthony Perkins was never nominated for his performance as Norman Bates. In 2009, Entertainment Weekly considered that snub to be the second worst Oscar snub of all time. Hitchcock himself expressed to Perkins how ashamed he was because Perkins was not nominated. Also, Bernard Hermann's score wasn't nominated either.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Composed, once again, by Bernard Herrmann.
    • The famous repeated minor-9th violin chords during the shower scene were so monstrously effective, they were used again by later generations of horror movie directors in their own films. They even have their own trope page.
    • It's noted on the Trivia page that Hitchcock originally considered doing the scene without the music. If there was ANY way to make that scene scarier, THAT would have been it, since it would have made it come even more out of nowhere than it already did. In fact, this could be applied to a LOT of horror films to come along since Psycho.
  • Dull Surprise: Sam Loomis. In a film full of memorable performances, he comes off like a complete stiff (no pun intended).
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • The film teaches audience to be wary of strangers. Just because someone looks or seems like a normal person doesn't mean that you should immediately trust them. Otherwise, you could end up dead or in serious harm if you misjudge someone mysterious. As Marion Crane found out the hard way.
    • Most shockingly, at least on early release, the film emphasizes that a Serial Killer can reside in and inhabit any community, even one that is potentially normal, and unassuming. The sheriff's shock at the end about Norman Bates' true nature, the fact that he had killed others before Marion and most people didn't notice it, only highlights the general paranoia that still makes the film very scary.
    • Marion's fate could also be seen as an extreme application of "crime does not pay". She never would have ended up where she did if she hadn't embezzled the money from Mr. Cassidy in the first place.
  • Fridge Horror: In the shot that pulls back from Marion's eye, it is possible to see her throat moving just slightly. Presumably this was simply because Janet Leigh couldn't remain totally still during the rather complicated shot, but if one likes, there is a more chilling interpretation: that Marion, while mortally wounded, wasn't quite dead yet and wouldn't be until she was put in the car and drowned in the swamp.
  • Genius Bonus: All the paintings in the parlor, but most specifically the painting that Norman takes off the wall in order to spy on Marion, are versions of Susannah and the Elders, a biblical story about two lecherous voyeurs who try to take advantage of an unsuspecting young woman while she's bathing. Also, in part with the bird motifs, Norman accidentally knocks off one of the pictures of birds in Marion's room, which confirms him as the murderer because he "offed the bird" - which, in British slang, is killing a young woman.
  • Genre Turning Point: In addition to marking, for some, the end of The Golden Age of Hollywood, Psycho is heralded by many critics as more or less codifying and defining the new mainstream of American cinema. Instead of idealized stars, you had characters playing normal people, at least relative to the mainstream of the time. More importantly it blurred the line between high and low art, with crude pulp material (dealing with illicit sex, robbery and a depraved Serial Killer) becoming as profitable, if not more so than the Epic Movie, The Western, The Musical and other prestige films which Hollywood, before and after Psycho, still saw as their major bread-and-butter, but by the end of The '60s had become unfashionable and unpopular.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Psycho was released 6 years after Hitchcock's Rear Window, where the character of Stella questions where Thorwald, the suspected murderer, would've killed his wife in their apartment. "Of course, the bathtub! It's the only place he could've washed the blood!"
    • Towards the end of the movie, a police psychologist declares that Norman isn't homosexual, just "confused". Anthony Perkins was homosexual in real life, though (like other gay leading men of the day) this wasn't revealed until after his death.
    • Marion Crane's well-known death in the shower scene becomes this when in Bates Motel she ironically gets Spared by the Adaptation and her boyfriend Sam Loomis gets killed instead.
  • It Was His Sled: At this late date, it's hard to find anybody who isn't familiar with the original movie's plot twists, whether they've actually seen it or not, mostly because Norman Bates has become one of the most iconic characters not only in film history but in the 20th Century.
  • Memetic Mutation: The Psycho Strings are the most famous example, but two of Norman's lines are fairly common Shout Outs in other genre pieces:
    We all go a little mad sometimes.
    Well, a- a boy's best friend is his mother.
  • My Real Daddy: One of the most notorious controversies about the film is the claim that Saul Bass made in the end of The '60s that he and not Hitchcock directed the famous "shower scene". In addition to designing the title sequence of the film, Bass has a credit for "Pictorial Consultant" and in that capacity designed storyboards for both the shower scene and the Arbogast Murder scene.
    • The reason for this controversy is Hitchcock's fault. During production, he and Bass had a falling out. And then in his famous interviews with François Truffaut, Hitchcock deprecated Bass when Truffaut brought up the Pictorial Consultant credit, stating that Bass designed storyboards for the Arbogast murder which Hitchcock didn't use and completely neglected Bass' contribution to the shower scene. Bass was naturally upset at what he saw as a deliberate lie of omission.
    • Later authors having consulted the storyboards note that Bass more or less did design the shower scene, the silhouette of the mother behind the curtains, the knife through the curtains and even details like the circular shower-head which rhymes with the Iris of Marion and then the drainage hole of the tub (which was similar to the spiral of Vertigo). The sequence was also quite unusual since Hitchcock rarely used such a montage of shots in his films. In either case, Hitchcock did direct the scene since he was on set and he more or less did delegate Bass to take on a bigger role than beforenote  but the shower sequence is as much Bass' as it is Hitchcock's even if the former did not as he tried to claim "direct it".
  • Narm:
    • "Mother, oh God, mother...the blood! The blood!" Mostly because they are the only piece of dialogue in a lengthy segment with no dialogue at all and thus seem out of place.
    • The very last scene of the first film where Norman is sitting in the jail while a very high-pitched and cheesy voice-over of his "Mother" personality plays. Not helping matters is the fact that Norman's Slasher Smile can come off as Corpsing, inciting the view to laugh along with him.
    • Averted in at least the Italian dubbing, where he frantically asks "Mother, for the love of God, mother! Where does all this blood come from?"
    • The murder of the private investigator. Seriously, he gets slashed in the face with a kitchen knife, and stumbles down an entire flight of stairs backward before falling down? Those are some very neat balancing skills for a murder victim.
    • The ending scene in the fruit cellar. While Lila's screaming would have brought anyone down to the fruit cellar, the fact that when Norman realized she was in the house that he went up to his mother's room to dress up as her instead of having a quick look around and then going down to the fruit cellar kind of detracts from the seriousness. Not much, but some.
  • Narm Charm: Not everyone dislikes the psychiatrist's scene. Mostly because the actor is deliberately over-the-top, it relieves some of the tension and that there was no other way to dispatch so much exposition economically given the constraints and structure of the film.
  • Out of the Ghetto: For low-budget horror and slasher films. Hitchcock, himself a Pigeon Holed Director, was fascinated by William Castle's cheap horror productions and was curious to see if he could make a movie of that kind and raise it out of its ghetto. Usually associated with an elegant type of thriller (featuring high production values and A-list stars). He made Psycho cheaply with little known actors and created perhaps the most commercially successful horror movie ever made, one of cinema's most iconic villains and launched the slasher genre, and also scored one of the few Best Director nominations he ever recieved. Thanks to the film's low-budget, great success and Hitchcock getting a bigger share of the profits, its a movie with a very high profit margin and it was the first time a horror movie became as much of a box-office sensation as an Epic Movie, The Western and The Musical.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The film involves someone spying on another person through purposely constructed peepholes drilled in the bathrooms, and an affable handsome young man, who is outwardly normal being an insane Serial Killer.
  • Rewatch Bonus: After you know the ending (assuming Popcultural Osmosis hasn't affected you too much), you'll watch it again and kick yourself for failing to notice all of the Foreshadowing.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The Shower Scene is an infamous example. If the movie was put in theaters today, most, if not all, people in the audience would probably watch on with indifference to the scene, and possibly complain over the bad special effects. However, it's important to take into account that the movie was released in the early 60's. At the time, the directors were not allowed to show explicit violence, nudity or a toilet flushing. (Hitchcock got that last part through, though.) Through fast-cut editing, timing, and effect, Hitchcock made it happen as explicit as the film industry would allow, which is why it was a great shock and terror to the people back then; you had not even expected someone to make a scene work that way. The world was left into a state of awe and terror for a long time after its premiere.
  • Signature Scene: The Shower Scene, where Marion Crane gets stabbed to death by Norman Bates.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Psycho is looked at as Hitch's peak of cultural appeal and influence. None of his films were as commercially successful or culturally impactful. The Birds is still considered a classic and a pioneer in special effects and sound design, but it was not as big of a sensation as Psycho and while Marnie is now considered his final masterpiece, it was critically disliked and commercially unsuccessful.
    • Psycho is also a final hurrah for Hitchcock's Production Posse in general. It was the last film Saul Bass designed titles for, on account of a personal and professional falling out. It was Hitchcock's final film for Paramount Studios (where he had made all his great films in The '50s). In the following years, his longtime editor and cinematographer George Tomasssini and Robert Burks respectively would pass away, and Hitchcock would have another falling out with Bernard Herrmann. So it was in a real sense an End of an Age for Hitchcock.
  • Values Resonance: It's pretty cool to see this film, released in what was basically the Dark Ages as far as views of non-heterosexuals were concerned, go a bit out of its way to point out that Norman should not be considered a transvestite, or have his evil actions ascribed to such an identity.
  • The Woobie: Marion Crane made a terrible impulsive mistake, came to regret it and was going to make amends but ended up being murdered brutally with her final fate being more or less one of many of Norman's ghoulish and unfortunate victims.

     Sequels and Remake 
  • Awesome Music: The first sequel is composed by Jerry Goldsmith.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The 1998 remake has random, near-subliminal video clips (storm clouds, a sheep in a road, a woman in bondage gear) which pop up during the two murder scenes.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Duane Duke being Evil All Along and the main antagonist of Psycho III came as an obvious reveal to everyone since his villainy was not hidden at all.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Norman killing his abusive mother Norma and her jackass boyfriend, slowly and painfully.
    • Duane Duke's Karmic Death.
  • Creator Backlash: In an interview with American Movie Classics not long before his death, Anthony Perkins mentioned that he felt his directorial effort on Psycho III wasn't as good as he'd like due to his inexperience. It's worth mentioning that despite this, the cast and crew is said to have enjoyed the experience of working with him.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Pretty much the big reason why Psycho III is divisive among fans was because of how depressing the tone was.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Dr. Raymond from Psycho II is a minor, but faithful ally to Norman Bates. Considering that he's trying to help Norman resume a normal life and derail Lila's Evil Plan to drive him insane again, it's no wonder why this small character somewhat appreciated. By coincidence, he also happens to be the only helpful male character working with Norman.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Mrs. Bates in the Psycho IV flashbacks.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Norman and Maureen from Psycho III were the only couple with the most chemistry.
    • Norman and Mary in "Psycho II" was quite popular too. As their chemistry was very believable and Mary was a very likable character.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The made-for-TV film Bates Motel is mostly ignored by fans because of how disconnected it was with the franchise, to the point where it could've been a separate movie entirely.
  • Fridge Horror: In Psycho II, it's revealed that there was also a peephole drilled in between Norman's bathroom and his mother's room that he never knew about. If you remember his mother, then you know why that peephole exists.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Sam Loomis dying in between the original movie and Psycho II becomes this when in Bates Motel he gets the death in the shower instead of Marion. You could also count how in the original sequel novel, he got killed by Norman alongside his wife Lila, who did suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death in the second film.
    • Norman earning his happy ending in the final Psycho film really becomes this since in the series Bates Motel Norman ends up killed by his own brother because he will never adjust to normal society and be forever deemed a monster. Ouch.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Norman's previous love interests Mary and Maureen's deaths were not all for nothing as they were able to inspire Norman with enough hope in himself that he eventually did pull a Heel–Face Turn in the fourth movie that stuck.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the sequel Psycho II, Norman's motel is run by a jerkass drug dealer admitting prostitutes, perverts, and drug addicts into rooms. The previous motel manager from Bates Motel was human trafficker who also dealt drugs on the side.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Lila in the second movie. She's motivated by Norman murdering her sister, so you can understand her personal grief and why she continues to fill the role of the Hero Antagonist to Norman's Villain Protagonist, as well as filling the role of a Well-Intentioned Extremist due to her methods. However, she is downright vindictive towards a person that paid his debt to society and trying to move on with his life, so she is not that sympathetic.
  • Money-Making Shot: From Psycho II, the shot of a shadowed Norman standing outside his house in the dark as his "mother" watches by the window.
  • Moral Event Horizon: It's very likely that Norma Bates passed it long ago, but she became the most monstrous character in the series when we find out about all the despicable abuses she tormented her son with.
  • Narm: The last shot of Psycho III. Anyone else suddenly want to hum some Tom Lehrer?
  • Nausea Fuel: Duane Duke kissing Emma Spool's corpse.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Every film involves someone spying on another person through purposely constructed peepholes drilled in the bathrooms.
  • The Scrappy: The psychiatrist is considered one for his long-winded scene that comes at the end of the film, which states information that should be largely obvious by the end. He is also happened to be an Unwitting Instigator of Doom in the sequel Psycho II, due to his diagnosis of Norman being permanently insane provokes Lila (who was present at the psychiatrist's hearing) to staunchly believe Norman is this and attempts to drive Norman insane again to get him recommitted when he is released and initially indeed cured of his insanity.
  • Sequelitis:
    • Averted with the surprisingly-good Psycho II. YMMV on the other sequels, but the common consensus seems to be that Psycho III is visually interesting but flawed and lacking in depth, whereas Psycho IV is just plain lousy, albeit not completely awful. The remake and the 1987 film Bates Motel do not count.
    • This also occurred with a different sequel to the original novel, and another plot was bandied about elsewhere: with Norman being released, found to be cured, back into the general populace. Except it was the 70s, when he went away in the early 60s. The eponymous "psycho" would have been the Anvilicious world around him.
    • The prequel series Bates Motel, on the other hand, is considered to be rather good.
  • So Okay, It's Average:
    • Psycho III is not as good as the first two films, but it's surprisingly entertaining on its own.
    • Psycho IV has also gotten this reaction since it does a good job at showing the traumatic backstory to Norman, but is mostly not as visually challenging or deep as the previous installments.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: In Psycho IV, the therapist who diagnosed Bates at the end of the first movie is called out on his bullshit by none other than CCH Pounder.
  • Vindicated by History: Psycho III and Psycho IV were not well-liked upon release, but a lot of viewers started to see that they weren't as bad as most horror movie sequels and even contained some genuinely good moments in them.
  • The Woobie:
    • Norman. He's so epically messed up. His father dies when he is 5 (it's never made clear how this happened). After this, his mother deliberately isolates and dominates him, making him dependent on her. She also fills his head with how sinful and evil women are. Then she shows up with a man when Norman is age 12. At this point, there are two possibilities: Norman is angry and jealous and kills both mother and her lover. Or, Mrs Bates kills both herself and her lover (remember the deceased Mr Bates). For option A, Norman is wracked with guilt and retrieves his mother's corpse as well as internalising her in order to alleviate his remorse. For option B, Norman simply assumes guilt for his mother's death (easier than confronting her abandonment of him) - and then internalises her. Either way, the woman who was responsible for his abusive childhood now lives inside his head, berating, watching, punishing - no peace, nowhere to hide. Norman's trap is his own mind, and he can't escape. Hitchcock deliberately cast Anthony Perkins in the role to emphasise Norman's woobie quality. The sequels trade heavily on it, too - especially Psycho II.
      • You may feel even worse for him in the second movie, as you know all of this going in. We see that he served his time and met the requirements to be released. He so desperately tries to get his life in order and maintain his newfound sanity, but he's being pushed over the edge due to a personal vendetta.
      • In Psycho IV, we see how awful Norman's childhood was. His mother was insane and demeaned him, killing her didn't help him escape her, and he is considering putting down his pregnant wife, because he doesn't want his unborn child to inherit his insanity. We cheer when that awful house finally goes up in flames, along with his poisonous past.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates in the remake. Also, taking the Janet Leigh part of the sexy, tempting woman who awakens "Mother" - bony, spiky-haired Anne Heche. Roger Ebert went so far to say that William H. Macy was the only actor who was appropriately cast.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/Psycho